I met Sanyukta Shrestha when she first started out. Her work stood apart, beacon-like amidst the other designers.
Being featured in Vogue and having her own flagship store in the West End seemed dreams away. Today just a couple years on, both have been achieved and the world is hers for the picking.
Sanyukta your Bridal Designs have always included innovative materials - what is new for this collection.
Besides using milk fibre, bamboo, hemp silk and organic silk, this season we introduced a traditional Nepalese fabric called ‘Khadi’. The cloth is woven from 100% fair traded organic cotton which is spun into yarn on a spinning wheel. It is a very unique and versatile fabric, which keeps the wearer cool in summer and warm in winter. The fabric is hand-woven by women from the Khokana village in Nepal which has been devastated by the 2015 earthquake and who I want to support continuously.
(The ‘Edelweiss’ coat from the Enchanted Blooms collection is made from Khadi fabric.)
What in your mind from your collection the perfect dress for a summer wedding.
It depends where this summer wedding is going to be held. Whether on a sandy beach in a tropical climate or in the garden somewhere in the idyllic English countryside. But in general I would say that it is important for a summer wedding dress to be lightweight in terms of the bride’s comfort. To create a balance between beauty & practicality, fabric plays the most essential role. If you feel good, you look good! Therefore, choosing natural fabrics like silk, bamboo, hemp and organic cotton will provide beauty and even health benefits (bamboo provides resistance to UV light as well as anti-bacterial properties which makes it an extremely suitable even for brides with sensitive skin) without compromising in comfort. Bamboo for example keeps you warm when it is cold but keeps you cool when you are hot.
My personal choice for a summer wedding is the ‘Tulip’ gown as the chiffon is light and airy creating a whimsical feel while the lace adds a romantic touch. For a more modern and daring bride, I would choose the ‘Kadupul’ ensemble (flared chiffon trousers and a bamboo lace crop-top).
Your studio is in Nepal and I know how committed you are to the welfare of your seamstresses - how have you managed to cope with the situation there?
Our studio in Nepal has the same kind of features and standard as our UK studio. My team is like my family and I am very proud of them. All our staff are fairly paid and have all facilities from savings to holiday pay, sick leave, maternity paternity pay etc. We have been sourcing special fabric production since 2011 in order to support marginalised skilled women weavers from many villages in Nepal, whom 90% of women weavers work under Tushli Meher Mahila Ashram (part of Mahaguthi, Craft with a Conscience. This fair trade social organization works with over 1000 artisans and provide regular employment and support to producers throughout Nepal, working with 100 producer groups in 15 regions of Nepal).
A recommendation for dinner for visitors to London?
London is a culinary metropolis and there are so many great places to enjoy a delicious dinner. I would say that people should generally stay away from typical chain restaurants and touristy areas. One of my favourite places is ‘Nakhon Thai’ situated in the Royal Docks (Penaeng Makhur – Aubergine in cream penaeng coconut sauce - is one of my guilty pleasure dishes). The restaurant overlooks the water (so book a table upstairs). Have a stroll on the promenade of Britannia Village or take a ride with the Emirates Air Line over to the O2 while you are in the area.